Report by Andy Leach
LYMM continued their impressive start to the season making the long trip to play Hull RUFC, for what appeared on paper, to be their sternest test of the season so far and came away with a 19-28 victory.
Lymm had never previously beaten Hull in the league and, from the pre-match comments on their website and in the programme, it was clear that the Humberside outfit were confident of victory – putting Lymm’s early season table-topping position down to the weakness of the opposition they had faced to date. It might well be that there is now a different perception in the East Riding of Lymm’s credentials.
The Lymm starting XV showed two enforced changes in personnel from the team that had delivered the previous week’s victory over Wirral, with Redfern absent and McEvoy unable to travel for the early kick-off. Will Titherington was called off the bench to fill the 10 shirt whist experienced centre, Tom Bray, slotted in as a natural replacement in the centre. Joe Watson, back from holiday, started on the flank with Ali Sutherland moving to the bench, where he was joined by prop Matty Hand and centre-cum-flanker Rick Halford, who was enjoying his first appearance of the season. With the pitch in perfect condition and a fine, sunny afternoon, the expectation of an entertaining encounter was high.
Lymm kicked off and immediately got their noses in front, as Hull failed to gather the kick off and in trying to tidy up were adjudged to have played the ball from an offside position. Nolan slotted the resultant penalty from just outside the Hull 22, to get Lymm off to the perfect start. 0-3
In the early exchanges, Lymm were showing a combination of their trademark strong defence with purposeful running and creativity when the ball was in hand. For Hull, fly-half Johnson was always a threat and winger Hihetah dangerous on the ball. On 11 minutes, following a high tackle, Nolan was presented with the opportunity to extend Lymm’s lead which he duly did with a monstrous kick from close to half-way and near the touchline. Cleary, Nolan’s confidence was high. 0-6
Lymm were certainly creating problems for Hull in these early stages, disrupting their attacks, forcing turnovers at exactly the right time and causing Hull to infringe at regular intervals. Another penalty to Lymm on 15 minutes was converted by Nolan’s accurate boot – another 40m effort, this time from directly in front of the posts. 0-9
Then, on 25 minutes Lymm scored the first of their three outstanding tries. Defending another Hull attack on their own 22, Lymm forced a turnover. The ever-alert Davies saw the potential, moved the ball right to the narrow side to winger Denman who pinned his ears back and outpaced the first line of the Hull defence, on meeting a covering defender he was able to offload to Davies who made a further 5m before finding left-wing Lucas Titherington, who barrelled over from 5m, taking a couple of despairing Hull defenders with him. Nolan’s relatively simple conversion provided the icing on the cake. 0-16
Unfortunately for Lymm, in the lead-up to this try young second-row Baldwin suffered an ankle injury which ended his participation in proceedings. Lymm’s second try on 38 minutes had considerable similarity with their opening score. Again, turning over Hull possession in their own half, Davies attacked down the narrow right-hand side. This time he found Kimber who, with Denman outside him, sold an outrageous dummy to wrong-foot the Hull defence, cutting inside to link with Davies who scored to the right of the posts. Nolan easily converted to maintain his 100% record. 0-23
Half Time: HULL 0 – 23 LYMM.
Lymm chose to enjoy the warm September sun during half-time, whilst Hull elected to retire to the changing rooms where, presumably, they were given a good talking to by their coaching staff. Lymm knew that Hull would come at them with renewed vigour in the second-half which would surely test the Cheshire team’s defence.
So it proved and, on 48 minutes, Hull finally got on the scoreboard. A fine burst through the Lymm defence by flanker Curry was the catalyst and with the Lymm defence stretched as Kimber was down receiving treatment, Hull winger Lancaster dotted down in the left-hand corner in acrobatic Rugby League style. The difficult conversion was missed. 5-23
Then on 54 minutes Lymm scored another outstanding try. Higginson pick-up from the back of a Lymm defensive scrum well inside their own 22, making good yardage before the ball was recycled to Davies. His box kick held up nicely in the wind, allowing the tall Denman to collect expertly from the clutches of the Hull defender, before setting off at pace down the right-wing and linking with Captain Adam Bray, who looked like he might score himself. However, he was hauled down 10m short of the line, but the ball was quickly made available for Davies to feed Denman who strolled over in the right corner. Whilst Nolan failed with the difficult conversion, the feeling on the sideline was that this had created sufficient daylight between the teams. 5-28
Hull did score two more converted tries in the remaining 26 minutes. The first on 61 minutes by winger Hihetah, was probably one that Lymm will think they should have prevented as a number of defenders had the opportunity to stop the run by this strong and elusive runner, but failed. 12-28
The final Hull try on 71 minutes, was scored by Adland following a clever kick behind the Lymm defence by scrum-half Harding, where the bounce of the ball favoured the Hull attacker allowing him to dot down. 19-28
Although Hull were striving for the try which would have secured them 2 valuable points, the Lymm defence remained solid, allowing them to play out the final 9 minutes without any drama.
Another great performance by Lymm in both defence and attack, with 3 crowd-pleasing tries scored. Man of the match, Oli Higginson was outstanding – dominant in the lineout; resilient in clearing up at the back of the scrum; and imperious in both attack and defence. “Generalissimo” Davies at scrum-half put in another tremendous shift – his speed of thought and deed has added an urgency and dimension to Lymm’s game which in previous seasons had barely broken the surface. The contribution of Denman was also especially pleasing, as his confidence and contribution grows with each match – especially for this correspondent, who can remember him arriving as a callow 15-year old with little rugby experience. That 15 of this match day squad have graduated from the ranks of Lymm Juniors and Colts is a source of immense pride for Lymm Rugby Club and something, for sure, of which most clubs in the North of England will be extremely envious. Next week Lymm are at home to Birkenhead Park KO 3pm.
Team: 1) Gavin Woods, 2) Adam Bray (C), 3) Dan Horton, 4) Will Baldwin, 5) Matty Connolly, 6) Sam Mullarkey, 7) Joe Watson, 8) Oli Higginson, 9) Andy Davies, 10) Will Titherington, 11), Joe Denman 12) James Kimber, 13) Tom Bray, 14) Lucas Titherington, 15) Cormac Nolan, 16) Matty Hand, 17) Ali Sutherland, 18) Rick Halford.